The departure of Jay Graham left Nick Saban in the unfamiliar position of hiring a new coach during spring practice.

It did not take long for Saban to find a replacement for Graham, hiring Drew Svoboda from Memphis. In his Wednesday post-practice press conference, Saban discussed adding Svoboda to the staff.

“We’re really pleased with it,” Saban told reporters. “He’s got a lot of connections. He knows a lot of people in Texas, which we thought was very, very important. He was the best teacher in the interview and he certainly hasn’t disappointed in his input that he’s had to this point.”

At the time of Graham’s departure, Saban shared Todd Watson was bumped up to the on-field special teams coach. Saban shared that Watson is still “running” special teams while Svoboda gets the hang of things.

“Todd Watson was really sort of the No. 1 intern on special teams, so he’s kind of running the special teams,” Saban told reporters. “It’s the first time I’ve ever had to hire a guy in the middle of spring practice, so we’re not gonna throw him out there in front of the players.”

Saban continued, sharing what Svoboda is doing, “He’s learning our system. He’s learning our scheme. He’s actually having input in the meetings but really can’t coach the players.”

Svoboda’s focus has long been special teams as a college assistant. As Graham’s replacement, Svoboda will also coach tight ends.

“And he’s really doing the same thing with the offense relative to the tight ends,” Saban said of his new assistant. “We’re probably a lot more flexible now when it comes to coaches because last year we had guys in and out.”

Saban said the situation has probably helped give the staff more flexibility in case of any absences like the quarantine cases last season. Watson certainly would be comfortable if he needed to be an on-field coach for a game.

“… Todd has done a good job of stepping up and helping us get through the spring. I haven’t seen us really skip a beat from a special teams execution standpoint.”